AIIMS hit by ransomware attack: What does ransomware mean, how dangerous it is and other details
The cyber attack has resulted in a server outage affecting daily operations at the hospital, including appointments, patient registration, discharge and more. National Information Centre (NIC), along with Cert-In, is said to be investigating the outage that has now crossed 36 hours. Till the filing of this report, it wasn’t clear whether AIIMS’ servers were back to business or not. Here’s what ransomware attack is, how dangerous it can be and more.
What is a ransomware attack
Ransomware is a type of malware or malicious software that encrypts the victim’s file (data) and asks for a “ransom” to restore access for the victim.
Think of it as an ‘extortion’ where you need to pay up money to get back your stolen data. If the targeted institute/company/person fails to meet the attacker’s demand, they risk losing access to the data, and it may end up on the internet, either publicly available to everyone or on sale in some marketplace on the Dark web.
How dangerous is a ransomware attack
The basic idea of a ransomware attack is to make the victim shell out some money, but paying money does not mean you would get the data stolen. As per the Sophos State of Ransomware 2021 report, around 92 per cent of organisations do not get all of the lost data back, and those who get it can not retrieve more than half of it.
How does it affect users
The attack has impaired the day-to-day activities at the AIIMS, which is the biggest healthcare institution in India, where tens and thousands of patients get admitted daily.
The activities such as registration, appointments, patient admission and discharge had to be done manually.
Also, suppose you visited AIIMS recently. You had to give all your data, including name, age, and previous medical records. Have you ever thought about where all this data gets saved? At the servers, the one that was attacked. So, the chances of your personal data being at risk are quite high if it is a ransomware attack and the institute decides not to pay the ransom.
Be on the lookout for your data and medical records on the Internet. As we have seen in previous attacks, the data often gets sold on the dark web or gets published on the world wide web.
How to keep yourself safe from ransomware attacks
Our first advice would be to install antivirus software on your system and keep it updated. Second, do not click on suspicious links and stay away from spam emails. Also, it is in the best interest of all to take a timely backup of your data.